Food giant General Mills Inc. is weighing selling a portfolio of brands including Progresso soup and Helper, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
General Mills is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as it explores the potential divestiture, which also includes some smaller brands, the people said. The company is targeting to raise around $3 billion from the sale, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
The assets are likely to attract interest from private equity firms, the people said. Minneapolis-based General Mills could also consider selling other parts of its business, according to the people.
Big food companies are repositioning their portfolios as a younger, health-minded customers emerge. J.M. Smucker Co. in July announced a sale of its U.S. baking business including Pillsbury to Brynwood Partners, while others are sifting through non-core assets.
In March, General Mills said it planned to sell a 51% stake in its Yoplait SAS yogurt business to French dairy cooperative Sodiaal and also buy full control of the brand’s Canada operations.
No final decision has been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said. Representatives for General Mills and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
The shares had risen 8% this year through Wednesday after gaining close to 10% in 2020, when sales of packaged foods surged as people stocked their pantry during Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. The company expected changes in consumer behavior driven by the pandemic to result in ongoing elevated demand for food at home, it said when announcing quarterly earnings in September.
Selling the Progresso and Helper brands could allow General Mills to pursue acquisitions without raising debt, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Conor Cuddy wrote in a note.
“The possible divestment reflects General Mills’ dynamic repositioning of its portfolio and may be a catalyst for investing in the pet category or more health-minded products,” Cuddy said.
Progresso traces its roots back to a tomato-importing business in New Orleans started by an Italian immigrant in the early 1900s, according to General Mills’ website. General Mills acquired the brand via its $10.4 billion takeover of Pillsbury in 2001. Today, Progresso makes canned soups as well as broths, soup mixes and breadcrumbs.
Helper was launched in the early 1970s as Hamburger Helper for consumers looking stretch a portion of meat into a larger meal amid surging beef prices. The boxes of dried pasta and seasoning can be combined with ground beef, tuna, chicken and other meats.